For those of you who are reading, who are Alzheimers caregivers, know you are not alone. The struggle is real and many carry these burdens. My mom has now carried the care of Pawpaw on her shoulders for 23 years and I have begun to beg her to get help and she has!
24/7/365, 24 hours a day / 7 days a week / and 365 days a year, is responsibility that NO ONE should try to carry alone when the Alzheimers patient moves into the late stages. The sleep habits of an Alzheimers patient is sporadic and for us, Pawpaw’s sleeplessness during the night and mom’s difficulty getting to sleep at all have met headlong into a near collision.
When the caregiver can not get any rest, it becomes harder than ever to remain calm and understanding with the patient whose care can be very trying to give graciously at times. When exhausted, my mom, Pawpaw’s sole caregiver except when I am around, has little patience left to remain calm and unemotional during outbursts. The scene created between a tired caregiver and testy Alzheimers patient is is a futile battle of the innermost wills when neither has brain cells working correctly.
Adult Day Care, Pawpaw calls it his “therapy”, has become mom’s respite care option that is saving her sanity at the moment. The professionals are recoding him at Stage 7 and only a couple of months ago, I believe his was somewhere between Stages 5 and 6.
In this short time, Pawpaw’s mental regression has compounded and he hovers between adolesence and childhood back up to young adulthood most of the time. 83 year old Pawpaw has asked questions that indicate where he is in his life’s timeline like:
“Are we going to have any more children?”
“Did I tell my mother I was coming over here?”
“Are the babies asleep upstairs?”
Actions that indicate regression include:
his dressing details like putting one two pairs of socks, wearing two pair of underwear at the same time or not having any jockey shorts on under his jearns.
not realizing that he has put his leg brace on wrong.
inability to brush his teeth unless the toothpaste is already on his brush and handed to him in time for brushing.
inability to get himself a glass of water because he can not find a glass, ice or the water faucet without help step by step. (Two months ago he could do that himself)
inability to sign his own name unless someone writes it out for him and walks him through it letter by letter.
Things that he can still do include:
read a few things but not everything.
talk and make words but he does not make complete sentences that make sense anymore.
feed himself if there are no distractions (he eats very little in a restaurant and he did okay eating 2 months ago though he could not make a decision on what to order even then.)
walk a little but his stroke handicap is a more of a handicap and walking is very hard. He does not make good judgement calls and falls very often.
take a shower with help getting the water temperature set. He has not been able to handle the water temperature and shower controls for several months now.
rest himself in a men’s room once he is taken to the door and allowed to handle the rest himself. He can not find the restroom at all on his own no matter where he is.
Caregiving is getting more involved and I pray mom can hold on until we find an opening in a veteran’s home for him!